Wednesday, June 11, 2014

La Biennale di Venezia - 14th International Architecture Exhibition: Israeli - Finland - USA - British - Germany - Pavilions

La Biennale di Venezia - 14th International Architecture Exhibition: Israeli Pavilion – The Urburb.  The Urburb exhibition in the Israeli Pavilion responds to the theme of Absorbing Modernity: 1914-2014 by presenting an artistic meditation on the development of Israeli space under the sway of modernist conceptions of progress.  Swaths of urban sprawl, which are neither urban nor suburban, characterizes the great majority of residential areas in contemporary Israel. In the endlessly expanding Urburb environment, new residential communities continue to pop up, separated by large expanses of open land, locked in and dislocated. 

Above - The Sand Printer. The pavilion is transformed into a construction zone, where four printers inscribe images on desert sand, and then erase them. Every few minutes a new image replaces the previous one. Together they tell the stories of one hundred years of modernist construction in Israel. As quickly as the various schemes are etched into the sand, so are they wiped away, emphasizing how these generic pattern-oriented plans are “printed” from above according to changing ideologies and numerous ‘master plans’.

Curators-exhibitors: Roy Brand, Keren Yeala-Golan Ori Scialom and associate curator, Edith Kofsky

La Biennale di Venezia - 14th International Architecture Exhibition: Pavilion of Finland – Re-Creation – The Resilience of Architecture. In the Finnish Pavilion, Re-Creation is a two-part installation based on a concept by Anssi Lassila. With two “primitive huts” that the visitor can enjoy from within, the installation provides two examples of space and shelter at their purest. One part of the installation was constructed by a Finnish master carpenter and his team, and the other by a Chinese team. Together the two installations strike up a subtle and complex dialogue between the architects and local builders. Re-Creation takes a stand on our relationship with the modern legacy and its tradition of international dialogue.
Above. The Finnish hut.

Commissioner and curator: Juulia Kauste, architect Anssi Lassila and curator Ole Bouman

Re-Creation – The Resilience of Architecture. Re-Creation embraces an appreciation for tradition as a source of identity, combining it with an openness and curiosity toward international influences. Finnish modernism has always essentially been about digesting these two into something new, not copied or borrowed, but inspired both by the local tradition and by an exposure to the world beyond one’s immediate sphere of experience.
Above. A drawing of The “Chinese“Hut.

La Biennale di Venezia - 14th International Architecture Exhibition: United States of America Pavilion – OfficeUS.  OfficeUS was founded in 2014 with the mission to critically reflect on the production of US architectural firms abroad, while simultaneously projecting a new model for global architectural practice open to all of us.  

OfficeUS Founders: Eva Franch, Ashley Schafer and Ana Miljacki

OfficeUS. The library of OfficeUS lines the pavilion’s perimeter walls and contains a repository of projects produced by US architecture firms working abroad from 1914 to today. Chronologically organized binders consist of office and project information along with historical documentation of their press presence. Dispersed throughout these histories, a series of Issues— each with its own binder—emanates from this work provoking debate and outlining aspirations for the present office and its future. 

OfficeUS. Over the course of the twenty-five weeks of the Biennale, the OfficeUS Issues function as program and structure for the office operations, led by partners, Arielle Assouline-Lichten, Cooking Sections: Daniel Fernández Pascual and Alon Schwabe, Curtis Roth, Manuel Shvartzberg Carrió, Matteo Ghidoni, and M-A-U-S-E-R: Mona Mahall and Asli Serbest. Working in collaboration with ninety outpost offices, their mission is to look backward and forward simultaneously, submitting historical material to contemporary critique while projecting an alternative future where issues become assets.  

La Biennale di Venezia - 14th International Architecture Exhibition: British Pavilion - A Clockwork Jerusalem.  The exhibition A Clockwork Jerusalem inside the British Pavilion explores how the international influences of Modernism became mixed with long standing British sensibilities. It examines how traditions of the romantic, sublime and pastoral, as well as interests in technology and science fiction were absorbed to create a specifically British form of Modernism.  
Above. A pair of Concrete Cows on loan from Milton Keynes, the last of the post-war British New Towns. Originally produced by artist Liz Leyh in 1978, shortly after Milton Keynes was established, the cows have become unofficial mascots of the town. Shipped to Venice for the Biennale, the Concrete Cows assume a formal position on either side of the entrance to the British Pavilion in the manner of Venetian lions.

A Clockwork Jerusalem. The main room of the pavilion features a giant earth mound which references thousands of years of British architecture, from ancient burial mounds to the rubble of demolished slums, sculpted into mounds as the central landscape feature of idealistic projects in places such as Arnold Circus and Robin Hood Gardens. Surrounding the mound is a panoramic narrative image that tells the story of British Modernism, referencing British visual and architectural culture: William Morris, Stanley Kubrick, David Hockey, Archigram and more. The eye of William Blake, author of the words to the famous poem Jerusalem, sits at the center of the panorama, made up with a cog like a Droog from Stanley Kubrick's famous A Clockwork Orange.

 Curators: Sam Jacob and Wouter Vanstiphout

A Clockwork Jerusalem. In the rooms around the central installation, images, objects and artefacts tell the story of British Modernism from Stonehenge to council estates, from Ebenezer Howard to Cliff Richard, from ruins and destruction to rural fantasies.
Above. Sir John Soane’s design for the Rotunda of the Bank of England as a Ruin Joseph Gandy, 1789.
Take Me High, Cliff Richard, album cover, 1973 – Concrete Island, J.G.Ballard, book cover by Richard Clifton-Dey, Panther Books, 1976.

A Clockwork Jerusalem. Large scale models show three of the exhibition's significant housing projects: Hulme, Thamesmead and Cumbernauld.
Above. Hulme Estate, Hugh Wilson and Lewis Womersley, 1971.

A Clockwork Jerusalem. Thamesmead, location research for Stanley Kubick A Clockwork Orange.

Stanley Kubick's A Clockwork Orange

La Biennale di Venezia - 14th International Architecture Exhibition: German Pavilion – Bungalow Germania. Germany is looking back at a century full of political and social fractures and continuities, in which the nation repeatedly defined itself anew. In this context, Bungalow Germania examines the tension between national identity and its built, architectural expression. It hereby not only understands architecture as a reflection of ideological power structures, but also as a constitutive force within existing societal circumstances.
Above. The entrance to the German Pavilion, two nationally and historically significant buildings encounter each other in Venice in 2014: the German Pavilion and the Kanzlerbungalow [Chancellor's Bungalow] in Bonn, realized in 1964 by Sep Ruf.

Bungalow Germania. The situative meeting of the two buildings plays with visitors’ expectations. When they enter the pavilion through its ten-meter-high portico, visitors suddenly find themselves in the low-ceiling interior of the Bungalow.

 Copyright Bundesregierung – Photograph by Ludwig Wegmann

Bungalow Germania. Stroll through the park: Secretaries of State Michael Kohl and Egon Bahr with the Chancellor’s Bungalow in the background, 1972.
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